Tagged: free agents

CRAWDADDY!

The Red Sox have signed Carl Crawford, and you’d have to be a lobotomy patient or a Yankee fan not to like this deal.

Just days after trading for Adrian Gonzalez, the Sox signed the best position player on the market. And, just like that, inserted themselves as favorites heading into this season. In case you forgot, this is the team that won 89 games last year . . . without Gonzalez and Crawford, and without Youkilus, Pedroia and Ellsbury. AND, with Beckett and Lackey having sub-par years.

Forget losting Beltre and Martinez. Beltre’s entire miserable career has been a classic case of monumental underachievement. His best two seasons: Free agent years. Some poor sucker is going to sign him and condemn his team to mediocrity. Victor Martinez? A very good hitter, but a sub-par catcher whose best days are already behind him.

Forget the money. The Sox aren’t suddenly jacking up their payroll. In fact, with the money they had coming off the books, the price they’re paying for Gonzalez and Crawford is essentially a wash. And they have more money – including JD Drew’s ridiculous contract – coming off next season. This isn’t a case of the Sox suddenly spending a lot. This is a case of good fiscal management.

Forget that this team is lefty-heavy. Yeah, they have a lot of lefties. But, both Gonzalez and Crawford have good numbers against lefties. And, as mentioned earlier, the Sox have two right-handed MVP candidates coming back into their lineup in Youkilus and Pedroia.

Forget about the Yankees signing Cliff Lee. The Crawford deal appears to have made the Yankees overreact, and go up to a seven-year offer for Lee, which they stated they didn’t want to do. Seven-year deals for position players are one thing, as they are historically much more durable and consistent. Pitchers, on the other hand, are much less predictable, even when they are healthy. And they are always one-pitch away from a blown-rotator cuff. AND, while Lee has enjoyed an excellent couple of years, he’s also been plagued by injuries during his career. Seven years is too much for any pitcher. Don’t be surprised if Lee is good for the first two or three years of this contract, then is an anchor for the rest of it. And, even with a good Lee, you still have to like how the Red Sox starting rotation matches up with the Yankees, especially if Lackey and Beckett return to form.

Forget about the bullpen. Like it or not, it’s always a crapshoot. How often in recent years have we seen the Sox and other teams stock up on great relievers in the offseason, only to have them struggle in the season. Middle-relief is almost impossible to predict. You do your best, then make adjustments along the way. Throughout his tenure as Sox GM, Theo has had his issues with the bullpen, but he’s also shown a knack for being able to improve it during the season (last year not withstanding). The starting core is great, the back end with Paps and Bard is very good, and the middle WILL come together.

Considering how much better this 89-win Red Sox team looks, is it crazy to dream of a 100-win season already?

Damon’s New York Break-Up

Dan:

It’s a beautiful morning.

According to reports, the Yankees have signed free-agent outfielder Randy Winn. And, say those reports, this almost certainly means Johnny Damon is out of New York.

I’ve been following Damon’s off-season closely, and this news has me jumping for joy. But, perhaps not for the reasons you are thinking of.

When Damon left Boston for New York after the 2005 season, he was widely villified in Red Sox Nation. The bearded idiot who embodied the historic 2004 Sox team and became a hero among Sox fans not only ditched us for the money, but he went to the friggin’ Yankees. He might as well have egged Fenway Park and kicked the Ted Williams statue in the stones as he left.

Personally, I was conflicted about it. I hated seeing Damon go, especially to the Yankees. But, on the other hand, baseball is a business. I can’t blame a player for going for the most money . . . especially when it essentially does mean that that team values you more than others. And these players are from all over the country (and world); regional rivalries have little hold on them. I pledged to always be thankful for Damon’s contributions to the Sox, and bid him farewell. No hard feelings . . .

But trouble was brewing in my home. My 2-year-old daughter was a Johnny Damon fan. She had a Johnny Damon T-shirt. And my foolish sister had given her a Red Sox Teddy Bear, which was called “Johnny Bear.” When we told her the news, she said she was going to cheer for the Yankees. Gulp.

Not a problem, I thought. She’s little. She was little more than 3 by the time Damon played Boston as a Yankee the next season. I admit, it caused me much anguish when my own daughter was cheering for the Yankees. But, I said to myself, she’s young. It’s a phase. She’ll forget.

My daughter turns 7 next month. When the Sox and Yanks play, she still openly cheers for the Yankees and taunts me. When she learned the Yankees had won the World Series last year, she let out a “YESSS!!!!” Just the other day, she mocked me by drawing a picture of me with me saying “I love the Yankees.” It needs to come to an end . . . one way or another.

So I’ve been looking forward to the day when I can tell her — with a big smile on my face — that Johhny Damon is no longer on the Yankees. That Damon is now on some other team, like the Oakland A’s or Atlanta Braves. That day is closer than ever.

The Good, The Bad, And The Beltre

Dan:

I just don’t know how to feel about this.

The Sox have signed a new third baseman, Adrian Beltre. This is a player who I stated I hoped the Sox stayed far away from in a blog entry a few weeks ago. Beltre is a player who has been a colossal underachiever his entire career. (If you think his fluke 2004 season wasn’t PED-fueled, I have a bridge I want to sell you.) On top of that – and most disturbing – signing him signals that the Red Sox truly are out of the running for Adrian Gonzalez.

This is the latest blow in an offseason that has left me feeling sick about the Red Sox 2010 chances — following the signing of Fluko Scutaro, losing Bay and replacing him with Mike “The K” Cameron.

However, maybe not all is lost . . .

The saving grace in the Beltre signing is the contract. I am shocked at how reasonable it is. A mere $9 million, followed by a player option of $5 million in 2011 and a $1 million buyout.

Wow.

I thought signing Beltre would take much more money and a commitment of several years. I’m not a fan of Beltre, but for $9 million for what essentially is a one-year deal, I can live with it. In fact, I almost like it.

Beltre must have had almost no suitors for him to accept this deal, which is nowhere near what Scott Boras was seeking for him. He must be hoping to play well this year, in a high-profile market, and cash in next off-season. Make no mistake: There is NO WAY Beltre accepts just $5 million to come back next year. Only way he does is if he has a terrible year, and, with that money, the Sox will likely be looking to eat his contract and replace him anyway should that happen.

Buried deep in the order, and playing in Fenway Park, Beltre may even end up being a huge steal, as he has all the motivation in the world to produce for a contract, has little offensive expectations, and moves from large Safeco Field to Fenway, where he can use the wall to pad his stats.

The more I think about it, the more I kind of like this deal. This offseason certainly hasn’t gone how I wanted it to go. In fact, it has pretty much gone the opposite direction. But who knows? This team might still be pretty decent next year.

Of course, if they aren’t, I’ll say I told you so.